At a Tellington TTouch Training for horses in 2007 in Kona, Hawaii, I met Paula Josa-Jones. These trainings always present an opportunity to network with gifted horsepeople, and Paula is no exception. I found myself wishing I lived in Connecticut so that I could see some of what Paula is up to.
Let me share a little bit about Paula with you:
PAULA JOSA-JONES, MA, CMA, RSME/T, is a choreographer, director and equestrian who has developed a unique form of visually charged dance-theater built on the sensuous experience of the body as landscape and source for movement, image and voice. Her work includes theatrical choreography for humans, her inter-species work with horses, dancers and riders, and work in film and video.
After a decade of creating theatrical works for humans, in 1998, Paula returned to riding and her childhood love of horses, and created an inter-species company with horses, dancers and riders. She has devoted herself to the study of dressage and areas of horse training and care including TTouch and Clicker Training. In 2001 she premiered RIDE, a groundbreaking work of equestrian dance theater, which is now in development as an international performance event. Paula is currently writing two books on horses and art: Pony Dances, a collaboration with photographer Jeff Anderson, and Horse Play: Practices for the Love of the Horse. Paula teaches fitness for riders, as well as competing and performing with her beloved Andalusians, Amadeo and Capprichio.
RIDE is an evening-length theatrical performance that explores the sensuous and archetypal bond between horse and human through a powerful mix of music, dance and aerial ballet. It is directed by choreographer Paula Josa-Jones with her company of dancers and horses, with highly regarded dancer and aerialist Paola Styron. In RIDE, the horse is the beloved. Through the shared human and equine language of movement, RIDE speaks to our desire for communion with a more primal self; to experience ourselves as partners and participants in the natural world. RIDE has a cast of eight dancers and six horses and riders. Live music, video projections, extraordinary costuming and set design create an intimate and spectacular theatrical experience. The cast includes hip-hop dancers who add a playful, high-energy dynamic to the dance.
RIDE moves into a new dimension with the integration of flight! Flying with horses is the latest innovation in our inter-species choreography. RIDE partners with Flying by Foy, whose fifty-year credits include countless Broadway performances, and who have set the gold standard for theatrical flying. For the past twenty years, they have worked with Paola Styron, aerialist, dancer and equestrian. RIDE adds this dramatic innovation to our stunning partnering aerial work with dancers on low flying swings.
PONY DANCES is a forthcoming book of photographs by Jeff Anderson of Eighth Generation Photographics and Paula Josa-Jones. It contains between 90-120 photographs of the remarkable liberty-trained horse Escorial, nicknamed Pony, and dancers Ingrid Schatz and DeAnna Pellecchia. Escorial is owned and trained by Sarah Hollis of Tintagel Enterprises in Westhampton, MA, who has worked with Paula, Dee and Ingrid for the past three years developing choreographic materials with Pony. The book also contains photographs of the Andalusian stallion Capprichio, the Friesian gelding Sanne, dancer Dillon Paul and dancer/aerialist Paola Styron. All of the photographs were taken during rehearsals of the equestrian dance theater work RIDE.
IN THE WOODS is a film collaboration by filmmaker Ellen Sebring and Paula Josa-Jones. It features dancer Ingrid Schatz and Friesians Mozart and Sanne. Shot on location in Rhinebeck, New York, IN THE WOODS is a journey into the wild that creates an abstract narrative with taut rhythms of connection and separation between dancer and horses.
THE BALANCED RIDE is a program of strength, flexibility and stability for riders looking to improve their balance, communication and effectiveness with their horse. The focus is on eliminating “rider static” that comes from an imbalanced seat and rider patterns of tension and discomfort. Private classes and clinics integrate mounted and un-mounted exercises for riders combining Pilates, Big Ball stability work, Bartenieff Fundamentalstm & core-supported yoga.
HORSE PLAY uses hands-on work and ground training to release held patterns of tension, injury or imbalance in your body or your horse’s body, resulting in greater freedom of movement, balance and awareness. TTouch (the Feldenkrais-inspired work of Linda Tellington-Jones) brings greater perceptual clarity to the body through a combination of touch and movement exercises. Clicker Training introduces horse and owner to specific movement cues that can clarify communication and defuse potentially volatile reactions in the horse (and human). Cold laser treatments are also available.
Paula will be performing a demonstration at Mount Holyoke College in Holyoke, MA on July 18, and is currently completing the film “In the Woods” and will be submitting it to film festivals throughout the next year. She is also developing a new body of work that I am calling “The Cowboy Project” that involves international film and performance including in Mongolia, Mexico and the United States.
Why horses as an artistic medium?
Horses are my deepest passion. Touching them, riding them, and working with them grounds me in work and life in a way that nothing else does. Horses connect us to ourselves because they wear no masks, have no agenda and reflect our physical and emotional states with uncanny clarity. When we learn to move with a horse, touch a horse and breathe with a horse, we gain confidence, compassion and awareness, as well as a deepened sense of our own being.
I think that this quote by John Lyons in Linda Tellington-Jones’ Ultimate Training and Behavior Book says it all:
Horses immediately respond to kindness. You can’t lie to a horse and tell him you like him when you don’t. They pick up on all the little things you do. How you touch them can put them at peace. It can be a surface-level feeling or a heartfelt feeling – horses can tell how you feel about them by the way your hands feel when you touch them. It’s the same with people; someone can give you a hug and you get a cold feeling; with another person’s hug you are drawn to them and feel safe. I don’t think it’s a mystical thing, but it’s something that reflects everything we do— it lets everybody else know who we are.
Tellington TTouch® and working with Linda Tellington-Jones have been invaluable to me both personally and professionally. It has deepened my sense of connection to horses, and given me a body of knowledge and experience that impacts all aspects of my work with horses. It is empowering, enlivening and powerful. It is a door to the possible. I often pair it with Clicker Training, which I find to be extraordinarily helpful as well.
Visit Paula’s beautiful website for video, information about her programs and coaching with the Sedona Method, repertory, and Paula’s favorite links.
Dancemakers Inc. dba Paula Josa-Jones/Performance Works is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
At Paula’s site, the following videos and CDs are available for purchase (and would make fine gifts):
Pauline Oliveros’ GHOSTDANCE CD
Pam White’s “Twelve Horses” 2009 Calender
© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch
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